North Carolina DUI Laws
From Charolette to Raleigh, from a day of drinking beers with your friends at a NASCAR event to an evening of wine, cheese, and live music, drinking and driving in North Carolina is strictly forbidden. North Carolina has some of the harshest and most complex penalties on the books for those arrested and convicted of an intoxicated driving offense. Read on to learn more about North Carolina's driving while impaired (DWI) crime. North Carolina drivers are guilty of driving while impaired if their alcohol concentration (BAC) meets or exceeds 0.08, or he or she is determined to be under the influence of, or affected by, alcohol and/or other drugs.
DWI Sentencing Laws in North Carolina
When it comes time for punishment, North Carolina is a leader of the pack, having some of the most complicated DWI penalties in the country. There are essentially six levels of punishment the judge can impose upon a convicted driver -- from most severe to least severe, the DWI sentencing levels are:
- Aggravated Level One,
- Level One,
- Level Two,
- Level Three,
- Level Four, and
- Level Five.
A North Carolina judge will use mitigating and aggravating factors to determine your "level" of punishment. Factors include your BAC at the time of driving, prescription medications, your current driving record, and other aspects of your DWI situation and overall driving history. Because of sentencing complexity, it is wise to consult with an attorney before going to court to understand your exposure.
Alcohol and Drug Education Traffic School (ADETS)
As part of your penalty for a DWI conviction, you may be required to attend Alcohol and Drug Education Traffic School (ADETS). If you are convicted for a first-time DUI, you will be required to attend a substance abuse assessment to determine if further treatment is warranted. If you refused a chemical test at the time of arrest or your BAC was 0.14 or higher, you will be required to attend an ADETS educational program meant to rehabilitate offenders.
This chart lays out the basics of North Carolina DWI laws:
North Carolina DWI Laws: Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits and Implied Consent
|"Per Se" BAC Limit||0.08 Percent|
|Zero Tolerance (Underage) BAC Limit||0.00 Percent|
|Enhanced Penalty (Aggravated) BAC Limit||0.15 Percent|
|Implied Consent to Submit to BAC Test?||Yes|
North Carolina DWI Laws: Select Penalties
|Minimum License Suspension or Revocation (1st, 2nd, 3rd offense)||30 day to 1 year, 4 years, permanent|
|Mandatory Alcohol Education, Assessment and Treatment||Both|
|Vehicle Confiscation Possible?||Yes (4th offense)|
|Ignition Interlock Device Possible?||Yes|
North Carolina DWI Resources
- North Carolina DWI Statutes: Driving While Intoxicated (NCGS Chapter 20).
- Resources for DWI Offenders - Links to various resources for drunk driving offenders (NC Dept. of Health and Human Services).
- Booze It & Lose It - Brochure highlighting North Carolina DWI penalties (PDF, NC Dept. of Transportation).
- Consequences of Underage Drinking - Brochure highlighting the state's zero-tolerance policy (PDF, NC Dept. of Transportation).
- Model Checkpoint Policy - Overview of North Carolina checkpoints and the law (PDF, NC Dept. of Transportation).
Get a Free Case Assessment with a North Carolina DWI Attorney
The Tar Heel State has some pretty steep penalties if you are found guilty or plead to a DWI offense. It may be in your best interest to contact a North Carolina DWI attorney for a free case evaluation. A skilled DWI attorney will be able to direct you to the next steps in the process and advise you about the possible outcomes of your case.